Happy New Year! It’s 2017 now, which means all that end of the year stuff we’ve been doing recently is officially out of date! Hooray, the cruel progression of time!
2016 was a good year for games, but it looks like the industry is keeping up that pace for this year as well. Here’s a few of the games I’m excited for.
GRAVITY RUSH 2 – JANUARY 20
Gravity Rush was easily one of the best games on the Vita. It was stylish, expansive, and inventive, and I spent hours zooming around the towering cities. It kept all of that charm and added even more gravity-bending goodness when it finally made its way over to the PS4 in an enhanced remake.
Gravity Rush 2 looks set to up the ante once again, adding in new playable characters, new abilities, and gorgeous, vibrant locations to put them to good use in. Ditching the Vita for the sequel seems like the right move, as everything we’ve seen of Gravity Rush 2 so far seems like it’s more of the same, but a lot of it.
KINGDOM HEARTS HD 2.8 FINAL CHAPTER PROLOGUE – JANUARY 24
The title is shit. I know it, you know it, every single person who’s ever heard it knows it, and when the reviews roll around almost every first paragraph will be dedicated to the shockingly awful name. Looking past that, though, and HD 2.8 is exciting.
The brand-new part of the package, 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage picks up where the PSP prequel Birth by Sleep left off, trying to tie up some of the loose ends in preparation for the next main entry. People loved Birth by Sleep, so going back to check in on heroine Aqua is pretty dang great.
However, I’m more excited about the remake of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. It’s one of the instalments I haven’t played yet, mainly because I find controlling 3D games on the 3DS difficult as all heck. I’m looking forward to trying out the freeflow parkour-y system and the totally-not-Pokemon Dream Eater taming. It also sets up the story for Kingdom Hearts 3 more than any other title, so it feels like essential playing before the next part comes out in 20XX.
SNIPER ELITE 4 – FEBRUARY 14
Sniper Elite is a guilty pleasure of mine. They don’t get the best reviews in the world, and the x-ray kill camera is nothing if not gratuitous, but I can’t help but love them. I dig historical settings of any kind already, and Sniper Elite 3 was full of cool moments. The open maps worked well compared to V2’s more linear structure, even if there were a few AI quibbles here and there.
I really enjoyed what I played of Sniper Elite 4 at EGX last year. The map was huge and full of explorable areas, and the shooting felt just as great as ever. The OTT gore has been upped to eleven as well, with the x-ray system now being applied to almost any type of kill if it’s good enough. I’m pretty psyched about being able to blast some nazi heads off in pretty Italian landscapes. I’m easily pleased.
FOR HONOR – FEBRUARY 14
Looks like me and my single ass are going to be busy on Valentine’s Day, because both Sniper Elite 4 and For Honor come out on the same day.
What I like about For Honor is the “fuck it, it’s cool” approach being taken to the back story. Knights, Samurai and Vikings existed at different times in history in different parts of the world and probably never actually met, but that doesn’t matter because all three are rad and so we get to watch them bash each other’s skulls in. There is a story mode that has some guff trying to explain it, but really they had me at “knights and vikings and samurai, oh my!”.
In a rare turn of events for me, it’s the multiplayer I’m more excited about. I’ve spent many fun hours playing Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and, more importantly, Chivalry: Deadliest Warrior with friends. For Honor looks like it’s going to be a gratuitously big AAA dollop of what made them good: freeform melee combat, wacky historical settings, and lots of players losing limbs. I can’t wait.
SONIC MANIA – TBA
I’m a life-long, unapologetic Sonic fan who can find the good in even the shittiest of entries. Unleashed? The day levels were great. Heroes? Speed formation was rad. Sonic 06? Er… Wave Ocean had cool music I guess?
Sonic Mania looks set to be the first Sonic game in a long time where I’ve not had to go looking for the good. When I played a short demo of it at EGX, everything I saw was remarkable. The new stages look detailed, the reworked versions of classics feel true to their originals, and good lord the animation is stunning. The physics feel far more like the good ol’ Megadrive days than what Sonic 4 attempted, and the level design is reminiscent of Sonic CD.
All Sonic games are ‘good’, even if the goodness comes from how laughably bad they can sometimes be. Sonic Mania seems set to buck that trend and just be a straight-up great platformer.
STYX: SHARDS OF DARKNESS – MARCH TBA
Being a prequel to one of my all-time favourite RPGS, Of Orcs and Men, aside, Styx: Master of Shadows was a fascinating stealth game. Its focus on verticality and the necessity to avoid fights made it tough-as-nails, almost like a classic Thief game. The story was surprisingly philosophical too, having discussions of identity and existence laid on top of the sneaky-stabs.
I’m not sure whether Shards of Darkness can keep up the story from the previous game, but everything else we’ve seen so far looks like it’ll be more of the dizzying heights and tense creeping that made Master of Shadows so good. There’s new amber (read: magic) abilities, more outdoor locations and a whole new setting to stalk through, and that’s good enough for me.
MARVEL VS. CAPCOM INFINITE – TBA
With Disney abandoning games in the wake of Disney Infinity, I wasn’t ever expecting to see a new Marvel vs. Capcom game. And yet here we are, in 2017, staring down the barrel of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, and boy is it looking good.
Infinite doesn’t look like it will replace the majesty that is Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, instead it’s going in a slightly different direction that I am more than okay with. Fights seem to be two-versus-two this time around, and it seems likely that the Marvel side of the cast will be predominantly manned by characters in their Marvel Cinematic Universe iteration as opposed to the eclectic selection of comic characters we’ve had before.
While I’ll miss my precious X-Men if that is the case, the fighting looks just as fast and explosive as ever. Only needing to learn two players rather than a whole team of three that need to fit together might make it a tad more accessible too. More than anything, I’m just glad to have MvC back.
Of course, there are plenty of games we haven’t seen quite enough yet for me to be necessarily ‘excited’ for, but still interest the heck out of me. I want to see more of Prey, Insomniac’s Spider-man game, There are also the countless early access titles that launched with promise last year, such as We Happy Few and Days of Infamy. Hopefully their full launches come this year and are just as good as their first showings!
There’s so much good shit on the horizon. 2017 looks like it’ll be pretty dang great.